Yet again, Buford had a quiet double-digit scoring night but finished with a career-high eight rebounds. That total did not surprise me because it seemed like every time a Buckeye came down with a tough rebound, it was Buford.
I've been hard on him lately as I feel his overall play has declined down the stretch, but he brought a focus on rebounding in this game that I haven't seen out of him all season.
I think … that along those lines, a lot of credit has to be given to the Ohio State defense for forcing the Wildcats into 16 turnovers. The Buckeyes actually gave up more points off of turnovers (18 to 15), a stat that surprised me, but Northwestern entered the game leading the Big Ten in turnover margin at +4.25.
The Buckeyes won that battle, 16 to 15. That helped take the Wildcats out of the game.
I think … that the inconsistency that has plagued Thad Matta's Ohio State men's basketball team for the 2008-09 season erupted in a new form against Northwestern.
In the first half of the first half, the Buckeyes looked positively dominant and opened up a 15-point lead while making Northwestern look like it had no business being on the same court. Then, just as suddenly, OSU went ice-cold from the floor and let the Wildcats come back and take the lead before eventually rebounding for the victory.
I'm sorry, but scoring six points during a stretch of 20 minutes and finding a way to win says just as much about the team you are facing as it does about your team. I know that at this stage of the season you have to win and move on, but can you picture the Buckeyes getting six points in 20 minutes against anyone else and winning?
I'm still not sure how they won this one, other than the fact that they finally solved the Wildcats' 1-3-1 zone.
Like I said, win and move on, but the Buckeyes have to feel a bit lucky to escape with this win. On the flip side, no way would I vote for Northwestern to make the tournament with an 8-10 conference record and the fact that they did not find a way to win this game.
I think … it was big for OSU to get key baskets from Evan Turner down the stretch given how he has performed in similar situations this season.
Two days before the game, I asked him about the mentality you need to be called upon to make big shots and likened it to being a closer in baseball. In his response, Turner indicated that he had not had his confidence shaken by late-game turnovers against the likes of Iowa and others, saying he appreciated the trust shown in him by the likes of Matta and his teammates.
This time, he converted by hitting a jumper that put the Buckeyes ahead by three points and setting up a crazy final half-minute. That was a big-time shot, and I'd foresee Turner being called upon to hit a few more of those before it's all said and done.
Right mindset or not, it's hard to imagine that a turnover in this situation wouldn't affect him mentally in some way.
I think … that I'm surprised that Kevin Coble's off-balance three-point attempt in the closing seconds didn't go in and tie the score.
Craig Moore hit six three-pointers against the Buckeyes, making this the sixth time this season they have allowed a Big Ten opponent to hit on five or more. There are two repeat offenders: Iowa's Devan Bawinkel and Moore. Two non-conference teams also did so in Butler and Houston Baptist, the latter of which actually had two shooters hit on six three-pointers each.
Twenty-nine games, and in eight of them opponents had a player hit five or more three-pointers.
I'll let you interpret that statistic as you will.